NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mayor John Cooper is putting an emphasis on after-school programs, working with over 60 organizations dedicated to “supporting and strengthening the programming options for those Nashville students who spend time after the school day ends.”

The push for quality options for Nashville’s youth has always been at the forefront of Judge Sheila Calloway’s mind, who has consistently been vocal about how more programs lead to fewer teens getting into serious trouble.

“When there’s nothing to do and there’s nowhere to go, children get bored and they have absolutely nothing positive, that is when we find that our youth are committing more crimes,” said Judge Calloway.

She sees it all too often, juveniles coming into her court facing serious crimes, including homicide and carjackings. For years in her position, she has pushed for second chances and other options to help deter youth.

“What we see is a lot of times in our youth that get in trouble, they get in trouble in groups, and they’re all thinking in negative thought, and they’re doing negative things, and so you’ve got to remove those negativity elements,” Judge Calloway said.

One way she says to curb crime is through after-school programs. The mayor’s office is leading an initiative through a partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools Extended Learning Department and United Way of Greater Nashville.

| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County

On Tuesday, the organization Backfield in Motion visited a local store to Christmas shop. The organization took more than 60 kids shopping for not only themselves but also their parents. Some students opted to spend their entire budget on a parent or parents.

“Whether that be involved in sports, whether that be involved in some academic piece, or whether that be in an after-school program, it’s very important because kids have to have something to do, if not, they’re going to do stuff that they shouldn’t be doing,” said Todd Campbell, CEO & Executive Director of Backfield in Motion.

The organization has been operating for more than 20 years as an extended learning program through MNPS. Campbell says, for him, it is all about watching these students lift each other up, and encourage their peers to be better.

“You know it’s a building process. If they see somebody’s not doing something right, the other kid will step up and say ‘hey man you’re going to get in trouble, you can’t do that.’ So, with our program especially I think it’s important because each kid kind of pulls each other up and make sure they behave,” Campbell said.

In October, Mayor Cooper launched the city’s first “Out-of-School Time Program Locator,” which is an online tool that connects Nashville parents with afterschool programs in their area.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

Mayor Cooper will be speaking at the Nashville Public Library on Hickory Hollow Parkway. The meeting is set to happen on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. It will be facilitated by Alignment Nashville, an organization that addresses systemic barriers to equitable growth, development and achievement of each MNPS student.